HERAT -- Anger over recent killings of Afghan migrants by Iranian forces continues to mount in Afghanistan as protesters take to the streets throughout the country to condemn Tehran.
On May 1, Iranian forces allegedly threw 47 Afghans into a river in the Dahan-e Zulfiqar border area, leading to the drownings of 29.
Afghan authorities have recovered the bodies of 12 drowned workers. The remaining 17 are still missing, according to the Afghan government's investigation committee.
Meanwhile, in an incident on June 3 that was caught on video, Iranian forces shot at a vehicle carrying Afghan migrants in Mehriz city, Yazd Province, leaving three dead and eight seriously wounded in the resulting flames.
The incidents sparked a number of anti-Iranian protests in Kabul, Helmand, Farah and Herat provinces, with participants burning the Iranian flag as well as portraits of the country's leaders.
More than 100 residents of Farah Province protested on the streets of Farah city on Thursday (June 11), a day after about 100 residents of Herat gathered in front of the Iranian consulate in Herat city to chant slogans accusing the Iranian regime of being a killer of Afghans.
Those protests followed a gathering on Monday (June 8) in which dozens of young Afghans and civil society activists demonstrated in front of the United Nations (UN) office in Guzara District of Herat Province to call on the UN and international community to put pressure on Tehran to end the killing of Afghan migrants and workers in Iran.
The Iranian regime committed heinous and inhuman crimes against innocent Afghan migrants in Dahan-e Zulfiqar and Yazd Province that cannot be forgiven, said Abdul Latif Ahmadi, a resident of Herat city who took part in the June 10 protests.
"If Iran doesn't respond to our call for justice, we'll stage sit-ins in front of the Iranian consulate in Herat city and shut down its offices," he said.
In addition, boycotts against the use of Iranian products will soon begin in Herat Province, he added.
The government of Iran has always committed terrible crimes against Afghan migrants, and these crimes must stop, said Shakaib Pardes, a resident of Herat city, during the protest in front of the UN office in Herat city on June 8.
"We participated in these protests to share the crimes of the Iranian regime with the United Nations, and we called on the UN to hold Iran accountable in accordance with refugee laws so that it no longer resorts to killing innocent Afghan migrants and workers," he said.
"We want the United Nations to pass on our voice to the world so that everyone becomes aware of the brutalities of the Iranian government," said Muhammad, a resident of Herat city who goes by one name.
Tehran must punish the perpetrators of these murders and provide compensation to the families of victims, he said.
"We're giving a deadline of 10 days to Iran to try the perpetrators who killed the migrants in a court of law, or else we'll take more-serious steps against the country," he said.
"We'll continue our protests against Iran until it punishes the killers of Afghan migrants and stop committing crimes against Afghan workers," said Muhammad Mehdi, a resident of Herat city. "I know that Iran pursues its old enmity with Afghanistan, but it should not kill innocent workers."
"We'll keep the Iranian consulate in Herat city shut until our demands are met," he added.
A pattern of atrocities
Meanwhile, Afghan authorities are seeking to ensure that the deadly incidents are thoroughly investigated by both countries.
President Ashraf Ghani at a cabinet meeting on June 8 ordered Muhammad Hanif Atmar, the acting foreign minister, to investigate the fatal vehicle-burning incident in Yazd Province through diplomatic channels.
The government of Iran is investigating the killing of Afghan migrants in the country, while an Afghan delegation will soon travel to Iran to look into the deadly incident in Yazd Province, said the Afghan Foreign Ministry said in a press statement on Wednesday (June 10).
The ministry presented a report of the killing of Afghan migrants by Iranian forces at Afghanistan's National Security Council meeting on June 10.
"It was decided at the National Security Council meeting that a high-ranking Afghan delegation will be sent to Iran to explore solutions, prevent the recurrence of terrible incidents like the recent ones, and look into the causes of these bloody incidents," it said in the statement.
The atrocities committed by the Iranian forces are nothing new, said Dadullah Qani, a member of the Farah provincial council.
"The Iranian government has been brutal to Afghan migrants and workers for years," he said. "The killing of Afghans by Iranian forces is the most brutal thing, which we strongly condemn."
"We call on the Afghan government to send a high-ranking delegation to Iran where it can defend the rights of Afghan citizens," added Qani. "The government should stop its submissive politics and defend their [Afghans'] rights based on international law and political agreements."
For its part, the Iranian regime has shown little remorse for these brutal acts. It has not admitted drowning the workers in the river.
In response to protests seeking justice for the deadly incidents involving Afghan migrant workers, Tehran has stepped up its purge of labourers by deporting them in large numbers, Afghan officials have said.
At the same time, the regime continues to meddle in Afghanistan's affairs through its continuous support of the Taliban.
Shah Muhammad, a resident of Farah city who protested against the Iranian regime on June 11, denounced Tehran for its efforts to prop up terrorist groups who seek to destabilise Afghanistan.
"The Bakhshabad hydro-electricity dam was supposed to be built a few years ago, but Iran made every effort to prevent the dam's construction," he said. "It still supports the Taliban so that it can stop work on the dam by spreading violence and unrest."
The Iranian regime has always been involved in the killing and massacres of Afghans with the help of groups it supports [on the ground], he said, adding that the government of Iran spearheads many of the clashes in Farah Province in which security forces and civilians are killed.